*******SPOILERS ON THE HORIZON*************
(My lovely friend Emma and I getting our Watson on at the special screening at the Odeon, Belfast)
Okay, so last night was The Night – the Sherlock special. And I was lucky enough to have tickets to see it screened at the Odeon in Belfast along with my lovely friend Emma, and before I launch into what I thought about it – can I just say that the atmosphere was lovely. We got randomly chatting to other people who were as giggly and into fandom as we are, and there mustaches, fan teeshirts and a couple of deerstalkers scattered around.
The lights go down and for the next ninety minutes we sat and giggled and nudged each other like small children.
But the special got a lot of mixed reactions and I can fully understand why.
Firstly – this morning there was a lot of ‘WTF?’ going on – and I’ll admit that for a second there was that feeling last night too. But then we just all rolled with it and it was cool.
I’ll be honest, the whole episode was complete fan service, and it was wonderful in that respect. But if you take it as a character study it suddenly becomes much more interesting.
Let’s take the whole ‘it was happening in my mind palace thing.’ Initially it was a bit to Dallas for my liking, but it actually made quite a lot of sense. What we have to remember is that in this dream sequence we are seeing everyone as Sherlock sees them, not as we the viewer see them, or not (as in the novels) how Watson sees them – which made for an interesting insight into how the great mind works.
Irene Adler – Irene Adler intrigued Sherlock, as Conan Doyle wrote about her –
‘To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex.’
(The opening line of A Scandal in Bohemia)
But what was interesting in this special was the interaction between John and Sherlock over the fact that Sherlock kept her photo. John tells him he once saw it, and Sherlock corrects him that John went looking while Sherlock slept. John didn’t apologise and Sherlock didn’t say anything more on it. We’ve already seen in the past how Sherlock reacts when John looks through his things – he just accepts it. And Sherlock clearly knew that John had seen it – possibly some time before hand, and accepted that, and didn’t mention it. He doesn’t just let anyone touch his things – look at how he reacted to the fake drugs bust back in season one – yelling at Donovan to put things back where she found them. So the fact that he allows John this access to him, and certainly more access to how he feels or thinks about Irene Adler says a lot about how much he trusts John. Through Irene Adler we can see the strength of Sherlock’s trust in his best friend.
Molly Hooper – Molly has already proven her mettle in the past when she belted Sherlock across the face repeatedly. And if we look back to then and see how Sherlock just stood there and let her, and how Sherlock apologised to her at Christmas, and then that lovely scene where she’s spent the day with him and then turns down his offer to buy her chips. Sherlock clearly cares about Molly as we have seen in the past, but the special showed us another side to that. Molly as a man, and Sherlock not noticing. Now, this could be taken two ways, firstly, Sherlock probably doesn’t notice that she’s a woman in canon – after all ‘not really his area’ – but secondly, it can seen that, taken in the context of the time and the field, that Sherlock sees Molly as every bit capable of her job – the boss, and doesn’t see any of the things that would indicate ‘weakness.’
Mrs Hudson – Mrs Hudson as we know her is caring and motherly, but can hold her own and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. This Mrs Hudson took that a little step further. Now, we already know that Sherlock adores his landlady – he is one of the few people he is openly affectionate with, and one of the only people he tolerates in his personal space – much as he complains about it. Remember when he told Mycroft off for being rude to her? Or when he pushed a guy out of a window because he’d laid a hand on her. Bloody hell, she was one of the people he jumped off a roof for. So to see that Mrs Hudson isn’t all that different from what we see is nice, but she is a bit more pointed about things, and I loved Lestrade’s confusion over her silence – it was a wonderfully pointed gesture on her behalf – and she didn’t even have to be on screen to make it.
Mary Watson – I’ll admit. I’m not a Mary fan, but the special showed her as Sherlock sees her, or wants to see her. Now, think about this for a moment – John leaves her behind, patronises her and takes off with Sherlock, that was after not recognizing her. When we bear in mind this is from Sherlock’s POV that get’s interesting. it could be taken that Sherlock is as sick with the change in dynamic as the rest of us are and just wants John to himself and Mary to leave them alone. The fact that he thinks she is working for Mycroft, and then the fact that she mentions being involved in a movement for votes, combined with the secret organisation hints at a more sinister side to Mary that Sherlock still doesn’t trust at all – which will make season 4 interesting. Now, when we look at how Sherlock sees Mary – stay at home out of the way, and how he sees Molly, then this takes on a new light. It’s like he really just doesn’t want Mary about. He doesn’t trust her – in the same way he doesn’t really trust Mycroft either – something else that came out in this episode. What was really telling, and perhaps foreshadowing for next season, was John’s line at the Falls : ‘There will always be two of us.’ If we compare that to what Sherlock said at the end of TSOT then we can see how Sherlock wants it to still be him and John, despite his previous words.
Lestrade – I will say that I love Lestrade (and that’s not just because of my Rupert Graves fixation). As a character he is a lot more complex that we initially give him credit for. He clearly cares about Sherlock, and he cares about his job too – to the point where he bends the rules for Sherlock all the time, but will also haul him back into step when he crosses the line. He’s quite fatherly in that exasperated ‘I really want to punch this kid in the face’ sort of way, and he certainly takes a lot more from Sherlock than many people – but also occasionally seems to get amusement out of it. Of course, what sent fans off on one was the amount of screen time Lestrade got with Mycroft – that gravedigging scene was important for several reasons that I’ll talk about more in a bit. But the looks that passed between Mycroft and Lestrade were clearly indicative of their own interactions – Sherlock knows that Mycroft talks to Lestrade – we already know this from HOTB and HLV where we saw Lestrade on the phone with Mycroft and in his office. This scene highlights Sherlock’s knowledge that they talk about him, but also that they are both men in positions of power and responsibility and they are both helping him break the rules. Again. But also, much as I adore Lestrade, he does have his little moments of stupidity which are endearing – like when Mary was proudly telling him that she’d joined a movement for votes for women, and Lestrade asks her if she’s for or against them – this shows that Sherlock tends to see Lestrade as being a bit dim – something that really could have been played up more, but the fact that Lestrade wasn’t overly stupid in this special showed that Sherlock doesn’t really think he is any more or less intelligent as he is normally shown to us, and also with the gravedigging scene it shows that he is someone Sherlock can rely on.
Moriarty – Dear lord how wonderful was Moriarty in that special. For a while it seemed like Sherlock was trying to work out how Moriarty faked his own death, but as always the truth was a lot more complicated than that. Moriarty has clearly been playing on his mind – which explains his obsession with the Ricoletti case. This whole special was about Sherlock learning to let go of what was holding him back – learning that he can’t live inside his mind that’s it’s eating him up and slowly destroying him. He’ll not survive if he carries on like that, and he knows it. But the interaction between John and Sherlock and Moriarty at the Fall was one of the most powerful moments in the special. It showed not only Sherlock letting go of the demons, but also that he needed and allowed John to help him do it. John was the one who kicked Moriarty off the cliff and Sherlock made a glib joke about it – reminiscent of the death of the taxi driver Study in Pink. Moriarty, as Sherlock sees him – and bear in mind we have seen the inside of Sherlock’s mind before – Moriarty has come to represent all of the things that Sherlock can’t control – including himself. Remember what Sherlock said to Moriarty at the end of TRF?
I am you. Prepared to do anything. Prepared to burn. Prepared to do what ordinary people won’t do. You want me to shake hands with you in hell, I shall not disappoint you.
I. AM. YOU. And that’s how Sherlock sees himself, which is why he is still tortured by Moriarty. When we was dying in HLV it was Moriarty he saw, but it was John he was trying to save, trying to get back to – Moriarty taunted him about John. Now consider this as a mirror of that situation. In the special they were standing at the Falls and Sherlock is fighting with Moriarty, and suddenly there is John. Because Sherlock needs John. Within hours of meeting Sherlock John killed someone to save his life. And here we see them, years after meeting, and once again John kills someone to save Sherlock. Interesting that both times Sherlock has been trapped inside his mind with Moriarty it has been thoughts of John that have helped him to overcome his inner demons and brought him back. Without John would Sherlock have been able to ‘beat’ Moriarty? I don’t think so.
Mycroft – The brother’s relationship has never been what we could call loving. That said, they do appear to, despite all evidence to the contrary, be quite close. After all, who else understands them. We already know that Mycroft cares about his brother a great deal – kidnapping John, telling John he worries about Sherlock, then later when he tells John to tell Sherlock he’s sorry, and when he tells Sherlock that losing him would break Mycroft’s heart. Neither brother is good at expressing emotion, but they both try occasionally. Sherlock, in true sibling fashion, doesn’t see Mycroft that way. When we are seeing Mycroft through Sherlock’s eyes in the Mind Palace, we see him as grossly overweight, indulgent, sneaking around employing Mary and not caring about his own life. It’s a skewed view, but not entirely inaccurate. Sherlock, however, is dwelling on the negative aspects of all of that, and not the reasons behind Mycroft’s actions – he is a man who gambles every day not just with his own life, but with the lifes of millions of other people. His job requires secrecy at all times and so he does sneak around and be overbearing, and so Sherlock sees it all as negative and repressive. The Fatcroft (which I totally called weeks ago when we were discussing the fact that there was no Mycroft publicity stills and I bet that we’d see Gatiss in a fat suit – and I WAS RIGHT.) What was a wonderfully telling and touching scene were the last ones between Mycroft and Sherlock – with the list of drugs and the flashback to a high Sherlock and Mycroft sitting with him. It showed that Mycroft has always been there for Sherlock, and that Sherlock has kept his promise to him. Mycroft is a good brother, and I think Sherlock knows that, but just doesn’t want to see it. We already know the lengths that Mycroft will go to for his brother – but what was touching and very sad was how Mycroft blamed himself for Sherlock being high – taking all the responsiblity away from Sherlock – which, if this is something Mycroft has always done, probably explains part of the reason why Sherlock never sees anything as his fault. And again, with the gravedigging scene it shows how aware Sherlock is that Mycroft is there for him and how willing he is to break the rules for him. Another aspect of their relationship is about intelligence. It’s a recurring theme between the two brothers – the competition to outdo each other – from simple games to ‘deductions’ (and here I can tell you that it doesn’t matter who is more intelligent because neither of them know the difference between deduction and induction so :P) to Mycroft and Sherlock bickering over who is the smart one.
Mycroft: Don’t be smart.
Sherlock: That takes me back. “Don’t be smart, Sherlock. I’m the smart one.”
Mycroft: I am the smart one.
Sherlock: I used to think I was an idiot.
Mycroft: Both of us thought you were an idiot, Sherlock.
(from TEH, 301)
And in the special it’s mentioned when Sherlock is cramming knowledge before he goes to see Mycroft. It’s very telling that, despite how he feels about everyone else on the planet and sees them all as idiots, he’s well aware that Mycroft is more intelligent than he is, and that actually seems to worry him – he is not a man who wants to be be less intelligent than anyone, especially his own brother.
John Watson – John and Sherlock have a very complicated relationship at times. It’s a very deep friendship, and John certainly puts up with a lot from Sherlock that no one else did. And it was Sherlock he went to when his marriage was on the rocks (admittedly because his wife had shot Sherlock). John seen through Sherlock’s eyes is a man who is loyal, a bit prone to irritation, but who would do anything for Sherlock. Such as kicking Moriarty off a cliff, and escorting Sherlock home to Baker street after an adventure before he even told his wife he was back. This is how Sherlock sees John, or wants to see John, as someone who will put John first. I think it’s rather telling how dismissive of Mary John is and how Mary sulks about it. It’s like Sherlock just wants John to himself again, and by making it be John that leaves her behind, he is making it John choosing him over Mary. I also thought the absence of the pregnancy was very telling. Bear in mind this is Sherlock’s mind we are, and in it John leaves Mary out of things, and there is no baby getting in the way and changing the dynamic, and it can be just the two of them again. In fact, John’s words at the Fall were really quite sad when we take them as Sherlock’s thoughts. TWO. Not three. TWO. Now, back in TEH when Sherlock returns, he says to John that John has missed the excitement, missed it being:
Just the two of us against the rest of the world.
And I think that’s how Sherlock wants it. Just him and John, back the way it used to be. These are the sort of things he can’t express, so they are coming out in his mind palace but because John is showing that their friendship is important, that he’ll be there for Sherlock. And it’s at this point that we realise how important John is to him, and how much Sherlock needs and relies on him, but how much he wants to John to want to be there. The fact that John once again killed a man for him without a second thought, killed Sherlock’s nemesis, and the fact that Sherlock ALLOWED John to do it, shows how important John is to Sherlock – he wouldn’t have let just anyone kill Moriarty, so allowing John to do it was very symbolic.
In all, as an insight into Sherlock’s mind, this was exceptional, and if you can get past the time travel thing then it’s a great viewing, but to be honest, if you are just a casual view you’ll probably dislike it. Fans will love the references and fanservice (especially if the reaction last night was anything to go by) it’s fun and clever with some brilliant lines and wonderful moments.
And it also gave a lot of fan fiction fodder – that gravedigging scene had so many shared looks that it’ll be fuelling Mystrade fodder for months. Can’t wait.
And one of the best things about it is that if you don’t have to have seen the special to watch season 4 – the end of the special basically picks up moments after the end of season three, so if you want to pretend it never happened then it won’t make a difference.
Maybe I’m just reading too much into this. Maybe we were all sharing one massive collective trip.
Either way, I hope you all enjoyed it.